Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Clinton Camp: Obama Plagiarizes; Bush 41 Endorses McCain; Interview With Governor Bobby Jindal

Aired February 18, 2008 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, Hillary Clinton's campaign accusing Barack Obama of one of the most controversial acts in presidential politics. So how does Senator Obama explain what he's been doing?
Also, the first President Bush says the man who should succeeds his son is the man who as at times has been very critical of his son. George Herbert Walker Bush endorsing McCain today. And the elder Bush has a special message for conservatives skeptical of the candidate.

And win, lose or draw? Guess where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton place in our brand new CNN Texas poll?

I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now Hillary Clinton's campaign is accusing Barack Obama of a scandalous act that's been known to derail a presidential campaign. That would be plagiarizing. At issue, passages of a speech Barack Obama recently used and speeches Deval Patrick used in 2006 as he sought to become Massachusetts' first African-American governor. Their speeches match almost word for word. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't tell me words don't matter. "I have a dream," just words? "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," just words? "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," just words?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal," just words? Just words? "We have nothing to fear itself," just words?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: CNN's Jessica Yellin is in Milwaukee right now.

Jessica, Obama is explaining this one, but the Clinton campaign has a very different reaction to what's going on. Update our viewers on this latest brouhaha.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Clinton campaign is fighting to win, and they're looking for any chink in Barack Obama's armor. Obama says that words matter. So now the Clinton campaign is saying then it also matters that the words he's uses aren't his own.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice over): Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick says he's glad Obama used his words to argue that rhetoric matters.

PATRICK: "I have a dream," just words?

OBAMA: Don't tell me words don't matter. "I have a dream," just words?

YELLIN: Governor Patrick is an outspoken Obama supporter, and Senator Obama dismisses this as a petty controversy.

OBAMA: Deval and I do trade ideas all the time. And, you know, he's occasionally used lines of mine.

YELLIN: But the Clinton campaign, stepping up their attacks, insists it calls into question the very premise of Obama's candidacy, which they say is lofty rhetoric and, in this instance, isn't his own. They also charge Obama copied key components of Clinton's economic plan, including the creation of a national infrastructure bank and five million green collar job. Then there's the ad running in Wisconsin.

ANNOUNCER: Barack Obama still won't agree to debate in Wisconsin. Now he's hiding behind false attack ads.

STUART ROTHENBERG, ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT: They're really making kind of a "Where's the beef?" argument. And that is an argument that could over time sell. Unfortunately, for Senator Clinton, she doesn't have a lot of time.

YELLIN: The argument begs the question, in politics is there a difference between imitation and verbal plagiarism? This might sound familiar from Obama rallies.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we are fired up...

YELLIN: And remember who said this first?

CLINTON: Well, I say, yes we can.

OBAMA: Yes, we can.

YELLIN: It's from Cesar Chavez, who rarely seems to get credit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Wolf, and Barack Obama today also made the point he has written two books and many of his own speeches. His spokesperson, Bill Burton, says that the Clinton campaign needs to check their facts. And he also says this is just an effort to score cheap political points -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica. Thank you.

Right now a former president who is father to the current president knows who he wants to be the next president. The elder George Bush sending a message today to voters about John McCain. And he has some choice words to those conservatives who remain critical of the presidential candidate. Let's go to CNN's Dana Bash. She's in Houston watching all of this unfold.

Dana, I think it's fair to say McCain received a major endorsement today.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, Wolf. It's interesting, though. Just last week, one of McCain's advisers was trying to make the point to me that he's really not doing that badly with conservatives by saying, look, he's even doing better than George H. W. Bush was back in 1992. But, you know, today there's no question that McCain was very, very happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with the former president for this high-profile picture of GOP unity.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice over): A Presidents' Day embrace from the only living former Republican President and GOP patriarch.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And no one is better prepared to lead our nation at these trying times than Senator John McCain.

BASH: John McCain's advisers hope this endorsement from the man who personifies the party establishment helps with McCain's challenge of uniting Republicans behind him.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This president is viewed with respect and affection by all Republicans.

BASH: But George H. W. Bush also reminds conservatives that promises aren't always kept...

BUSH: Read my lips: no new taxes.

BASH: ... a day after McCain reiterated virtually the same pledge on ABC News.

MCCAIN: No new taxes.

BASH: That's an attempt to mollify conservatives still distrustful of McCain for voting against the current President Bush's 2001 tax cuts -- anger boiling from a GOP base eerily similar to that aimed at then President Bush in 1992, fueling a debilitating primary challenge from the right.

BUSH: No, I haven't forgotten '92 now. BASH: The former President Bush brushed off his own troubled past with conservatives, but said he gets "annoyed" at attacks from the right on McCain.

BUSH: I think the criticism on this conservative or not conservative is absurd.

BASH: The elder Mr. Bush came armed with writings of Ronald Reagan, whom he served as vice president, to show even the now mythical Gipper had problems with conservatives.

BUSH: They seem determined to paint me as a kind of turncoat conservatives.

BASH: Conservative leaders in Texas, which hold its primary March 4th, say Bush's endorsement helps, but McCain still has a long way to go.

TOM PAUKEN, FMR. TEXAS GOP CHAIRMAN: He's been more identified with the moderate to liberal wing of the Republican Party. There's a real "anybody but McCain" faction in Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And this big endorsement event by the former President Bush here in Texas, here at this airport in Texas, really underscored a tug of war going on inside the McCain campaign, Wolf. On the one hand, they want to portray an image of this campaign -- this primary season, rather, being all locked up. But on the other hand, they do worry inside the McCain camp, by doing that they're going to make their own voters less motivated to go out and vote. Meanwhile, the people who support Mike Huckabee or maybe those who are willing and eager to cast a protest vote, they still have a lot of energy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dana. Thank you.

And Dana and Jessica Yellin, they're both part of the Emmy Award- winning best political team on television. Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out our Political Ticker at CNNPolitics.com. The ticker is the number one political news blog on the Web.

That's also where you can read my latest blog post as well. I just posted one moments ago. Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He's here for another week and "The Cafferty File."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, sir. And welcome to New York. Hillary Clinton probably doesn't like the message coming from some of her supporters right here in New York who are now questioning her reliance on superdelegates in order to beat Barack Obama.

New York Congressman Charlie Rangel, he's one of Clinton's top African-Americans allies, insists it's the people not the superdelegates who will select the Democratic nominee for president. Rangel adds, "The peoples' will is what's going to prevail at the convention, and not people who decide what the peoples' will is." Then there's New York Senator Chuck Schumer, another big Clinton supporter who doesn't seem pleased with Clinton's willingness to fight it out with Obama on the floor of the convention come August. New York's senior senator calling on both Clinton and Obama to agree on a winner after the last caucus in June. Schumer says, "I don't think either candidate wants or even can get away with forcing their will down the throat of the other."

Meanwhile, Clinton shows no sign of letting up. She's been calling on superdelegates to make their own decision about whether to support her or Obama. She says they should exercise independent judgment and should not just anoint the candidate who's leading after the primaries.

Oh, sure. Why give the nomination to the candidate who has the most support from the American people? That doesn't make any sense. Obama has won the last eight Democratic contests in a row and leads Clinton among pledged and total delegates. However, he still trails her among superdelegates.

So here's the question: What does it mean if some of Hillary Clinton's allies are now questioning her reliance on superdelegates to win the nomination?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. You can post a comment on my blog.

It's Presidents' Day. It's a holiday. You're not working. Go write something on my blog and do something for your country.

BLITZER: It's a good idea.

CAFFERTY: Right?

BLITZER: Or mine.

CAFFERTY: Well, no. Mine first.

BLITZER: Or both.

CAFFERTY: Well, mine first.

BLITZER: OK. You didn't ask me what I wrote about today.

CAFFERTY: What did you write about?

BLITZER: You have to read it. You'll find out. You'll like it.

CAFFERTY: I will?

BLITZER: Trust me.

CAFFERTY: OK. I'll go read it.

BLITZER: CNNPolitics.com.

He's the first Indian-American governor, the youngest sitting governor. Now Rush Limbaugh says he thinks Louisiana's Bobby Jindal should be perhaps vice president of the United States. I'm going to be speaking with Bobby Jindal. That's coming up next.

Also, Nancy Reagan in the hospital after a nasty fall. Coming up, what her condition is like right now.

And it's a Texas-style showdown. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battling to win the state, but guess where they rank? We have a brand new CNN poll that is just coming out right now. You're going to want to see this.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Louisiana's new governor is a rising star in the Republican Party. He's only 36-years-old. A lot of people are talking about him right now, and some are even suggesting that Bobby Jindal might make an attractive running mate for John McCain.

I went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over the weekend, spent some time in the governor's mansion. We spoke about politics and a lot more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about the presidential political scene, first of all. So far, correct me if I'm wrong, you haven't endorsed anyone among the Republican candidates. Is that right?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: No, that's correct. And there's a reason for that. We want all the candidates to pay attention to Louisiana, especially our recovery needs. I think it's a great thing.

John Edwards came and announced his candidacy here, got out of the race here. The major candidates have traveled here multiple times. We want both parties to pay attention to Louisiana. You know, the recovery needs will go well into the next administration.

BLITZER: Maybe even beyond that based on what I saw when I walked through the Lower Ninth Ward yesterday, among other places.

But you're a Republican, so you're eventually going to go with a Republican, unless you're going to surprise me right now and say what Colin Powell told us last week, that he's not sure.

JINDAL: Well, no. Chances are very good I'll end up supporting the Republican nominee.

BLITZER: Is there any chance you'll support a Democrat?

JINDAL: Well, look, in my past I voted for Republicans and Democrats both. We need to vote for the best person, the best candidate. Louisiana's a very nonpartisan state. We have open elections.

When I was elected, I didn't get elected in a Republican primary. I'm a lifelong Republican, I'm a conservative. But we won candidates from all the different parties run in one election here in Louisiana. So we're kind of used to --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But right now there are really four, five candidates left, if you include Ron Paul. On the Republican side, John McCain seems to have the nomination pretty much in hand. And your former -- the former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, still in the race as well. But are you leaving open the possibility that you could support Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?

JINDAL: Let me be clear. Look, I'm not -- don't expect a huge surprise out of me or the governor of Louisiana. I'm very likely to support the Republican nominee. We just want the process to finish. I've said, you know, I don't think as elected officials we need to tell voters who to vote for.

When it comes to Senator McCain, he's been a good fiscal conservative when it comes to earmarks and going against pork barrel spending. On foreign policy he's been very strong on our military, on the need for defense.

I will say this -- and again, I think it's extremely likely I'll end up when it comes time for the nomination, it will be extremely likely I'll be supporting the Republican nominee. But I will say this about the other two major candidates -- Senator Obama, I agree with those that find him inspiring. I think he does bring a genuineness, an enthusiasm. I think he's an inspirational speaker.

I don't agree with him on a lot of the issues. I do think he's more liberal than I am. But I think there is something that explains the large turnouts and enthusiasm he's generating. Senator Clinton, I've testified in front of her committee before when I worked for the administration. She's smart, capable, professional.

And we had talked earlier about Governor Huckabee. As the neighboring -- as the governor of the neighboring state, did a great job taking in the people of Louisiana. Basically told his cabinet, don't let paperwork or rules get in the way of helping the people of Louisiana. I kind of wish FEMA had done that.

So, chances are extremely good I'll be supporting the Republican nominee. But at this point in the process, we want every candidate and all the campaigns to continue to pay attention to Louisiana. We're encouraging them to do that.

BLITZER: Because I read some of the speeches you gave in your effort to become the governor of Louisiana, and a lot of it very similar to what we're hearing right now from Barack Obama -- the need for change, "Yes, we can." A lot of inspirational rhetoric.

There are similarities between you and Barack Obama in terms of the fact you're both very young.

JINDAL: Well, and I think people are tired of the partisan fighting.

What I saw in D.C. -- you know, I sometimes say the parties remind me of my children. We've got young children, and I don't mean to insult my children when I say that, but, you know, the parties have this attitude of, they don't care if they win, as long as the other side loses. And when they do that we all lose.

And what I think people find so inspirational in the senators' rhetoric -- and I certainly think what resonated with voters when they voted for me was that they're tired of all the ideological fighting, they're tired of the partisan fighting. In a democracy we should disagree. We should have debates. We should stand up for principles. But it isn't about winning or losing, it's about finding common ground...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So you want to work with the Democrats? You want to bring this whole political process together?

JINDAL: Absolutely. Look, I've got a majority Democratic house and senate here, and we're working extremely well together in the legislature here.

I got elected in a state that by far the majority of the voters are registered Democrats. I've always had to go across party lines to build consensus, either when I was in Congress or as governor. And I think that's one of the things that voters are seeing both in the Republican and the Democratic parties.

You look at Senator McCain, you look at Senator Obama, both of whom are independent at times, both of whom appeal to Independents, both of whom have broken from their parties at times. I think voters are saying we may not agree with these candidates on all their positions, but we respect the fact they're honest with us, they're authentic with us, and they're trying to do the right thing. Whether we agree with them in everything or not, at least they're willing to go across party lines.

BLITZER: What does it mean if Barack Obama were the president of the United States, an African-American to be president?

JINDAL: You know, a lot of people -- and people tried to do this in my election. They try to make it about race. I don't think these elections are about race. I don't think that gives the American voters enough credit. I think American voters are worried about the economy right now and housing, and they're worried about the war in Iraq and worried about health care.

And if they choose to elect Senator McCain or Senator Obama or Senator Clinton, or any one of these candidates, what it will mean is they're saying we think this is the person who best understands our concerns, is most capable of addressing them, and the candidate that, by the way, we think is going to be honest with us, because when you elect a president of the United States, you can't anticipate -- when we elected George Bush, I don't think most voters were thinking or even imagining the horrors of 9/11. You elect the person you think is best capable for whatever might come, predictable or unpredictable.

BLITZER: Rush Limbaugh, who is no great fan of John McCain's, as you well know, he is a big fan of yours. He said this on February 8th, "I'm going to give you a name that would make me jump for joy... Bobby Jindal. I did an interview with Bobby Jindal. He is the next Ronald Reagan, if he doesn't change."

He was throwing out your name as a potential vice presidential running mate for John McCain. What do you think about that?

JINDAL: Well, first, I'm obviously extremely flattered. Whenever anybody puts your name in that kind of context, it's flattering. It was very nice of Rush to do that. The reality is, I've got the job I want. I've got an incredible opportunity in Louisiana. We have got an historic opportunity to change our state. Now we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix our state.

BLITZER: But what if McCain asked you?

JINDAL: He's not going to ask me.

BLITZER: How do you know?

JINDAL: Look, he's not going to ask me. But, no, my focus is on Louisiana. I've been elected. I've told the people of Louisiana this is our chance to fix our state. And I mean that.

I don't think we'll get this chance again in our lifetimes. So, it is my responsibility to work with the legislature and the voters. We're in the middle of an historic ethics (ph) session. I promise you this -- we'll move Louisiana from the bottom five to the top five when it comes to ethics and good government.

We have a second session coming up in a couple of weeks to cut taxes on businesses. We have a third regular session coming up in March. We'll revamp workforce training, revamp our health care systems.

This is my goal. What my contribution in public life and public service is, right now my focus is making sure that people in Louisiana can pursue that American dream without leaving the state.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, speaking with me over the weekend in Baton Rouge.

A huge explosion shakes a Texas town. Why neighbors there are counting their blessings right now after what the town's mayor is calling a miracle.

And politically savvy or just plain stubborn? Is Mike Huckabee just aiming for the number two job? You're going to hear what he has to say about that and a lot more.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, authorities are trying to figure out what caused a powerful explosion at a Texas oil refinery. Four people were injured in the blast at the Alon USA plant in Big Spring. The town's mayor says it's a miracle no one was killed.

The explosion shook buildings miles away, closed part of Interstate 20, and forced residents and schools to evacuate. It's not clear yet if the blast could send gas prices skyrocketing.

Nancy Reagan could be released from a California hospital today. The former first lady took a fall at her Los Angeles home last night.

She's undergoing tests after spending the night at St. John's Health Center just as a precaution. She's in the same room her late husband Ronald Reagan stayed in when he broke his hip back in 2001.

The 86-year-old is said to be doing well. She's in good spirits. And Nancy Reagan has been seeing visitors. Doctors say luckily she did not break a hip, as they had feared at first.

An explosion reported in Kosovo today as the United States is officially recognizing the former province's independence. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia yesterday. It's also winning recognition from a growing number of European Union members, including France and Britain, as EU ministers meet today.

But Spain and Slovakia call Kosovo's move illegal. Serbia, an ally of Russia, also opposed the declaration of independence. That's a look at the headlines right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thanks very much.

A Texas two-step for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. But who's going to end up ahead? It could change. We're finding out what the voters are thinking right now. The results of our brand new CNN poll, that's coming up.

Mike Huckabee's hard drive in Wisconsin, is he hurting the Republican Party by staying in the race or setting himself possibly up for the country's next vice president? You're going to hear what he has to say about this and more.

And who will be the big kahuna in Hawaii? Barack Obama's sister is doing some serious campaigning, and you're going to find out about her efforts and a lot more right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, U.S. troops seize chilling evidence from al Qaeda in Iraq. They show the terror group murdering one-time allies. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is standing by with details.

From coast to coast, schools are looking into whether meat from sick cows could be in your kids' lunches. We're going to have the latest on the biggest beef recall in U.S. history.

And who really killed President John F. Kennedy? What newly discovered documents long hidden in a Dallas safe reveal about a conversation between Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in New York. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

A stunner coming out of Texas. CNN's just-released brand new poll from Opinion Research Corporation shows Barack Obama in a virtual tie -- a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton there. Let's go right to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. He's here watching the story for us.

So, the snapshot we're getting right now, where do things stand in Texas, Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Texas is all tied up like a heifer in a rodeo, one might say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Two weeks to high noon, the big face-off -- in Texas, of course.

Ma Clinton...

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Meet me in Texas. We're ready.

SCHNEIDER: ... faces the Illinois kid.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We think we will do well in states like Texas, and Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which I know Senator Clinton has suggested somehow she has got a built-in edge.

SCHNEIDER: Does she? The new CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation shows the Democratic race in Texas just about tied. Democratic voters are picking sides, women for her, men for him. She's got Latinos. He's got African-Americans -- whites closely divided, older Democrats for Clinton, younger Democrats for Obama. Didn't go to college? Clinton. Went to college? Obama.

And, since it's an open primary, you have got Democrats for Clintons, independents for Obama. Evenly divided? Yes. Bitterly divided? No. Seventy-nine percent of Texas Democratic voters say they would be satisfied if Clinton wins. And 79 percent say they would be satisfied if Obama wins. But who do they think will win? Seventy-nine percent say Clinton is likely to be the Democratic nominee. Yet, 82 percent think it's just as likely to be Obama. He may have a slight edge in momentum.

What's at stake in Texas? Everything, her people say.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The truth is, is that Senator Clinton has to win Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If she wins those these probably if nominee. If she loses one of the three, then Senator Obama is going to probably be the nominee.

SCHNEIDER: This race ain't big enough for the both of them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: McCain the maverick and preacher man Huckabee will also be facing off in Texas. It looks good for McCain. He is leading Huckabee 55-32.

And McCain might wish to emit a yee-haw, because, for the first time, he's carrying conservative voters in a Southern state.

BLITZER: March 4th, that's when the Texas, Ohio primaries are coming up.

We're going to be speaking, by the way, in the next hour with James Carville. We will get his latest assessment on what is going on.

But these new numbers, they can't be very encouraging for Hillary Clinton right now, because it wasn't that long ago she had a considerable lead in Texas.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. She's lost her lead. He doesn't have a lead either. It looks just too close to call right now. Maybe after the debate, things will open up a little bit.

BLITZER: We will see what happens. All right, Bill, thanks very much.

Let's take a look at the delegate count on the Republican side right now. John McCain is pretty close to getting the number he needs for the nomination. He has 830 delegates to Mike Huckabee's 217.

For the Democrats, a very different picture. By our estimate, the two remain locked in a neck-and-neck battle. Obama has a slight edge with 1,262 delegates to Clinton's 1,213. But Clinton has 75 more of those superdelegates, the party leaders, the party insiders, who can vote for whomever they choose, and whose support could clearly still sway this race.

In parts of Africa, thousands of people are lining the streets to see him. Fierce warriors perform in his honor. And one woman even danced joyfully when she got a hug from him. There's a huge outpouring of affection for President Bush right now as he continues his five-nation trip to the continent. Today, he visited Tanzania.

And that's where our White House correspondent Ed Henry is standing by with details -- Ed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, on his third day in Africa, the president was touting success in dealing with diseases like AIDS and malaria. But his administration is also having to confront major hot spots, like Kenya and Sudan.

(voice-over): President Bush dancing to the beat as he was serenaded in Arusha, Tanzania, his romance with the African people continuing.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our interests are combined, and our interests are now making a significant effort. And, so, on behalf of the United States of America, we say, God bless you.

HENRY: Mr. Bush became the hugger in chief, as he continued to tout humanitarian progress on a six-day jaunt through Africa, this time over his battle to rid the continent of malaria, which kills a child here every 30 seconds.

BUSH: It's is unacceptable to people here in Africa, who see their families devastated and their economies crippled. It's unacceptable to people in the United States, who believe every human life has value.

HENRY: The president announced plans to distribute more than five million bed nets that prevent infected mosquitoes from biting kids.

BUSH: Under this five-year, $1.2 billion program, we're working with 15 African countries to cut malaria-related deaths by half.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN (singing): Mr. President, the first lady...

HENRY: Mr. Bush's efforts have made this one of the few spots in the world where his popularity gives him a chance to make the case his legacy should be more than the Iraq war.

But there are still plenty of trouble spots here in Africa, especially Kenya, where the president dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday. Amid pressure for the White House to do more to end the post-election strife in Nairobi, Rice declared, the crisis must end soon.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There needs to be agreement that the parties are going to allow an electoral truth to be found, which means that a commission that can look into what happened in the election, which clearly was not a good day for Kenyan democracy. HENRY (on camera): After three nights here in Dar es Salaam, the president, on Tuesday, goes to Rwanda, which tragically dealt with its own genocide in 1994. So, the president is likely to get more questions about why the U.S. is not doing more right now to deal with what Mr. Bush himself has labeled genocide in Darfur -- Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Ed Henry in Tanzania for you, thank you.

Mike Huckabee says he's staying in the race. But might his staying really be a sign that he's eying the number-two spot on the Republican ticket?

Also, like father, like son? Now that former President Bush has endorsed John McCain, might the current president follow suit? That's coming up in our "Strategy Session."

And al Qaeda puts graphic executions on videotape. Officials say the terror group is on a murderous campaign against its opponents.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Mike Huckabee is holding a rally in Appleton, Wisconsin, today. He's hoping to make some inroads on rival John McCain's huge delegate lead in tomorrow's primary, even as he faces some questions about why he's even staying in this race. Let's go to Mary Snow. She is joining us now from Milwaukee with more.

So, why is Huckabee insisting he won't drop out, at least right now, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he's defiant, saying that he has a message. And, around Wisconsin, as he campaigned today, he told people not to listen to the pundits or party leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SNOW (voice-over): If the Republican presidential race is like bowling, consider Wisconsin a spare, and Mike Huckabee is hoping to knock down the naysayers.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SNOW: In Milwaukee, WTMJ Radio's conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes isn't an absolute naysayer. He says he won't be surprised if Huckabee does well in Tuesday's primary here. Sykes himself has decided to support Senator John McCain. But his listeners are split.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will vote for Huckabee.

SNOW: That same listener, though, is skeptical.

CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Do you think that Huckabee can win the nomination?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that it's about a 99 percent shot No.

SNOW: McCain called into the show and was asked about Huckabee.

SYKES: Why do you think he is still the race?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not sure. But it's his right to stay in the race. And I respect that.

SNOW: Huckabee says he needs to give Republicans a choice on issues, such as advocating for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Without a doubt, it's very important that I stay because the conservative message needs to be told.

SNOW: He's repeatedly asked if his real motivation is to secure the job of vice president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you do well Tuesday in Wisconsin, do you call up Senator -- maybe not win...

HUCKABEE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... but do close, do you call up Senator McCain and say, gee, is the number-two spot open on the ticket?

HUCKABEE: No, I don't do that. I keep fighting for the number- one spot.

SNOW: That fight was interrupted for a dose of reality this weekend, when Huckabee traveling to the Cayman Islands to deliver a speech for which he was paid, reminding reporters he needs to earn a living.

He quickly returned to the campaign trail, but one Republican strategist says, Huckabee's defiance with impossible odds could cost him in the future.

RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Staying in the race keeps Mike Huckabee in the headlines until the headlines become mocking headlines, which I don't think are very far away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And, on the campaign trail today, Mike Huckabee acknowledged to reporters that he indeed may be hurting a potential political career, but he feels that he's running on principle and has no plans to step aside. After tomorrow, he plans to head to Texas and campaign there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow with a little snow in -- behind her in Wisconsin right now -- Mary is in Milwaukee. Thanks very much.

Twenty Democratic delegates, by the way, are at stake in Hawaii, in the caucuses there tomorrow, the weather a lot different than in The candidates aren't campaigning there themselves. But, for Barack Obama, his sister has him covered, and she's using the Web to rally support for her brother. Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. She's standing by.

Abbi, how is she doing this?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is Maya Soetoro- Ng in this Web video for the Barack Obama campaign describing herself as once the irritating little sister of Barack Obama.

Now she's campaigning for her brother in Hawaii and also online, seen here in this video from a grassroots supporter Web site, explaining to people in Hawaii how to caucus for Barack Obama tomorrow.

Obama was born on Hawaii. From pictures, you can play -- he plays up his Hawaii roots on this Web site, Asian Avenue. This is the half-sister of Barack Obama. And -- and she says as she's campaigning in Maui over the weekend in this YouTube video, she -- talking about their mother, their family history.

And the campaigning seems to be a family affair. Online, her husband is stumping for Obama on the official Barack Obama Web site, describing the activities going on over the weekend.

The candidates, as you said, not there right now, but it's also -- the family of Hillary Clinton is represented, Chelsea Clinton stumping over the weekend on Maui -- these pictures sent in by I- Reporter Kevin McCowan (ph), who says he's a Clinton supporter, but the state is very big on Hawaii ties -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Good. Thank you very much for that, Abbi.

Let's just remind our viewers we're going to have a live report from Hawaii on the Democratic campaigning that's going on there in our next hour. Our Suzanne Malveaux has that assignment. She will be joining us from Honolulu.

John McCain scores a coveted endorsement from former President George Herbert Walker Bush. But is the campaign keeping the current president, George Bush, at arm's length? We're going to take a closer look at this delicate balancing act. That's coming up in our "Strategy Session."

And with just a day to go before the Wisconsin primary, is Hillary Clinton stepping on Barack Obama's heels in the polls there?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Right now, new polls show Hillary Clinton may be catching up to Barack Obama in Wisconsin, where the primary is taking place tomorrow. And he's doing exactly the same thing in -- to her in Texas. That's where the March 4th primary takes place.

Let's discuss this and more in our "Strategy Session." Joining us, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn and Republican strategist John Feehery.

Peter, look at these poll numbers in Wisconsin. The American Research Group poll has Clinton at 49 percent, Obama 43 percent. The Research 2000 poll, taken a couple days earlier, has Obama 47 percent, Clinton 42 percent. Both of them have either a four- or five-point sampling error.

A lot of people have simply assumed Obama was to going win Wisconsin.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right.

BLITZER: Is this closer than we thought?

FENN: I think it is a lot closer, Wolf. I mean, most people were looking at a blowout for a while in Wisconsin. A pretty liberal state. The governor there supports Obama. A lot of the congressional delegation supports Obama. So, this is good news for Hillary. I mean, I'm not sure she's going to win it, but this is tighter than a tick, and that's the way she wants it right now.

BLITZER: And take a look at this, John. In Texas, where a lot of people thought Hillary was really going to have it relatively locked up -- and that's on March 4th -- this CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, our new numbers out today have Hillary Clinton at 50 percent, Barack Obama 48 percent, a 4.5 percent sampling error. So, this is about as close as it gets. It's very, very close in Texas, John.

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, it's tightening up in both states. I think it's very interesting to see. People are kind of taking a very hard look at both of these candidates to see who can they trust, who has more experience. If you look at Wisconsin, I think a lot of the ethnic voters in Wisconsin are kind of -- flock towards Hillary, especially the Polish and the Germans who live in Milwaukee.

In Texas, it seems like that the Hispanics are going to be flocking towards Hillary. But I think a think a lot of the African- American voters in Houston and Dallas are going to be going for Obama. So, it's tightening up in both states.

BLITZER: It's a tight race all around.

Let's talk a little bit about these allegations of plagiarism we're now hearing from the Clinton campaign, that Barack Obama plagiarized some speeches from Deval Patrick, the Democratic governor of Massachusetts, a strong supporter of his. How big of a deal, Peter, is this? FENN: Well, there's a pretty good-sized "New York Times" article about it today. The problem, Wolf, is that this is word for word from Deval Patrick's speeches when he was under attack for the very same thing. He was talking about hope and inspiration. And he used the exact same language, exact same quotes.

So, I think it would have been smart for Obama to say, look, you know, as Deval Patrick said when he ran for governor, to give him some credit, because he's been repeating these very same lines for a while. And he says, look, we're friends, we talked last summer, which is all true. So, I don't think it's -- I don't think it's a huge deal, but I think it's something that shows a little problem for him.

BLITZER: It's a headache, certainly, the Barack Obama camp, John, certainly doesn't needs, given the history of allegations of plagiarism. Some of us are old enough to remember Joe Biden, when he ran for president -- not this time, but many years ago, what was it, back in the '80s, and he was accused of plagiarizing some speeches from a British prime minister.

(CROSSTALK)

FEEHERY: Well, Deval Patrick is no Neil Kinnock, in the sense that at least Deval Patrick and Barack Obama are best friends. And you have Deval Patrick covering for Barack Obama, which helps him.

But I think Peter is exactly right. You don't want this kind of story out. And what it does, it inspires all the other speeches from Barack Obama, to find out who he stole those speeches from. And I think that's the real big problem...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, people are going to be taking a closer look now at some of the language...

FEEHERY: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... in those speeches, which is obviously a headache the Obama camp doesn't need.

FEEHERY: No doubt about it.

BLITZER: Let's talk, John, about the first President Bush's endorsement today of John McCain. A lot of people are waiting to see when the current president finally goes ahead and endorses him.

He's waiting for the political dust to settle with Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul presumably. But here's what -- here's what McCain said about how he would like to use the current president when he goes out and campaigns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would be honored to have President George Bush's support, his endorsement, and I would be honored to be anywhere with him under any circumstances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: He made that statement after a front-page story in "The New York Times" suggesting, well, he was sort of lukewarm, would like him to go out, the current president, to do some fund-raising among the Republican -- the Republican base, but not necessarily be standing alongside him all that much.

What do you make of this?

FEEHERY: You know, the first President Bush and the second President Bush are alike in one way. And that is I think their legacy will be better than how they look at the end of their presidency.

The fact of the matter is that, with independent voters, the current President Bush is toxic. And that's where McCain has the real big -- big problem. With Republican voters, he's still obviously very popular. But, with independents, where McCain does the strongest, he's -- he's very toxic. Independent voters just don't like the current president, which is unfortunate.

Now, for McCain, it's going to be a dance. And it's not going to be a cheek-to-cheek dance. It's going to be more of a mambo, where they stay far apart from each other. I'm not sure if mambo is the right word.

(LAUGHTER)

FEEHERY: But, anyway, it's going to be very interesting to see how this dance -- this dance works.

(CROSSTALK)

FENN: I would agree with what John said, Wolf. I mean, you know, $273 million was what this president raised last time he ran. That's a lot of money. McCain would like to have some of that fund- raising prowess.

But, on the other side, this -- if this is a third term for President George Bush that he's running for, big trouble for him. I think, politically, he would like to have him in his rearview mirror.

BLITZER: Peter Fenn and John Feehery, guys, thanks very much for coming in for our "Strategy Session."

FENN: Thanks.

BLITZER: And coming up, there are some major presidential contests tomorrow. We are going to be covering all of them here on CNN. Hawaii holds its Democratic caucuses with 20 delegates at stake. Wisconsin and Washington State hold primaries for Democrats and Republicans. But the Democrats in Washington State already awarded their delegates in their caucuses earlier this month. We will be covering all the election results tomorrow night, all night, right here from the CNN Election Center.

Bill Clinton versus the hecklers -- the former president defending his wife. We're going to tell you what the hecklers are saying that got him so upset.

Secret documents about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are unearthed. But they -- could they reveal anything about the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, that we don't know or the man who killed him, Jack Ruby?

Plus, keeping your kids safe -- why a massive beef recall has schools making sure their lunches are not tainted.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In today's political ticker, Bill Clinton again takes on critics of his wife. This time, they're the hecklers. It happened during weekend campaign stops in Ohio. In one incident, abortion opponents shouted and held up signs. They prompted this testy response from the former president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors. And we disagree.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Bill Clinton also took on a heckler at another Ohio campaign stop. You can see Clinton pointedly making his argument to someone who had been shouting Barack Obama's name. The man apparently raised Bill Clinton's ire by saying that Hillary Clinton will soon be out of the race.

Barack Obama wants to be clear. He would really like John Edwards' endorsement. Obama visited his one-time rival yesterday at the Edwards home in North Carolina. Officially, the Obama campaign says the two met to discuss -- and I'm quoting now -- "the state of the campaign." Hillary Clinton also recently met with John Edwards.

Remember, for the latest political news any time, check out CNNPolitics.com. That's the place to go.

Let's bring back Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, what -- what does it mean if some of Hillary Clinton's allies are now questioning her reliance on the superdelegates to perhaps win the nomination?

Eric writes: "As a lifelong Democrat, two-time Clinton voter, I have to say I'm unnerved by the prospect that the Republicans could be right about something. If Hillary is willing to manipulate the superdelegate system to her advantage, then the Clinton-hating Republicans could be right -- quote -- 'The Clinton machine will do whatever it takes to hold onto power' -- unquote. It's a shame."

Glenn writes: "Hillary's quest to have superdelegates act independently of the voters is an act of desperation and will fail. She has a fair and equal opportunity to impress the electorate. If she fails to do so, this says that the other candidate is the choice of the people. A brokered solution will ensure a defeat for the Democrats in November.

John writes: "I think it's fair to say that the Clinton campaign just doesn't get it. They are like generals fighting the last war. They don't understand Obama's appeal. Consequently, they don't understand how to fight it. Repeatedly, they make statements which they believe are hardball, but turn out to be lowball. It's a combination of poor judgment, blind ambition that has become so obvious, even some supporters are taken aback."

Patricia in Pittsburgh: "Contrary to the 'Evil Hillary Tries to Steal Nomination' story that some talking heads have flogged for weeks, the truth is, the superdelegates are primarily loyal to the Democratic Party, not to specific candidates. And, therefore, they will support the candidate who has the best chance of beating John McCain in November. That more are leaning toward Obama is an indication that party leaders are lining up behind him as the new establishment candidate."

And Lyn in Johnson City, Tennessee, writes: "If you were in Clinton's shoes, after all you've put in your campaign, would you dismiss the superdelegates? You'd be a fool. This was a stupid question, Jack."

What do you want from me? It's Monday.

BLITZER: Can't always be perfect.

CAFFERTY: Well, it's President's Day. I only work half as hard on President's Day.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Stand by.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxantshop.com